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[TIDBITS] The Valley of the Royal Tombs


#1

The Valley of the Royal Tombs

Back back back we go my friends. Six thousand years B.C. Egypt.
To a lady to who loved jewels and jewelry. Not diamonds and
rubies and pearls…but rather turquoise, and lapis lazuli, and
carnelian, and amethyst…all mounted in heavy gold settings and
then decorated with blue enamel. The designs of her jewelry were
taken from nature. Birds and flowers ornamented her dress. As she
strode through palace chambers with billowing attire, she
clinked and gleamed in the light, so heavily was she adorned. Her
name was Queen Zer.

Eventually, as happens, to the best of my knowledge, to most of
us, dear old Queen Zer left this mortal life to boldly go forth
where she had never gone before. As so, as she was prepared for
her after- life, her servants placed her jewels with her, so that
she might not have to be embarrassed at not having a thing to
wear when she got to where she was going. Wrapped in aromatic
bandages–apparently you have to smell good too when you get to
where you’re going–she was placed beside her husband in a tomb
at Abydos, to the west of ancient Thebes, in a region called the
Valley of the Royal Tombs.

As I am sure all of you have surmised by now, the Valley was
jam-packed with tombs which were jam-packed with kings and queens
whose resting places were jam-packed with jewelry. So…what does
one do with all this knowledge?

Well, if you were an Egyptian of that day, and if you had the
morals of an alley cat, you plundered the bejeebers out of the
tombs, without regard for the spirits of the dear departed
nobility. (Parenthetically, for all you cat lovers–of which I am
one–this is not meant as a slur to the felines we all so adore).
The robbers had no respect for the dead bodies, and the even
stripped off all the embalming in order to more quickly get to
the gems.

One thief, as it turns out, had ripped out Queen Zer’s arm, as
his share of the booty was to be all the jewelry on that arm,
but, seeing more attractive loot elsewhere, placed the arm in a
niche of the tomb and forgot about it. Tell me folks, that the
lure of wealth does not surpass any and all other lures.

Later generations rebuilt the tomb and built a temple to Osiris
around it, and for hundreds of years, though many pilgrims
visited the shrine, the lost arm lay in its niche, unnoticed.

The moral? Who knows what other jewelry laden appendages still
lie somewhere, hidden, in The Valley of the Royal Tombs? Perhaps
there’s a treasure hunter out there with a little spare time.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

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